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Sustainable Procurement Series: Examples of Sustainable Procurement in Action

Welcome to the third post in our Sustainable Procurement Series for public sector and higher education procurement professionals. We are exploring sustainable procurement, why it matters, how Periscope’s purpose intersects with it, examples of sustainable procurement in action, and how you can take action. Come back next Friday for the final post in this series. Click here to read the first post in this series and here to read the second post in the series.

Today’s post explores some examples of sustainable procurement in action.

Example #1: The State of Maryland ~ Source: Maryland Green Purchasing Committee web site and Summer Conference
The Maryland Green Purchasing Committee was created in October 2010. The Committee provides information, assistance, and guidelines for environmentally preferable purchasing, so that Maryland is procuring goods and services that have a lesser or reduced impact on human health and the environment.

This Committee was responsible for:

  • Creating Purchasing Guidelines that address practices, products, services, and food that reduce negative impacts on human health
  • Creating an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Best Practices Manual
  • Creating and implementing a Strategy to Increase EPP Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP)
As part of this effort, The State of Maryland’s Green Purchasing Committee has embarked on an important initiative around Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Reporting.  Maryland is leveraging the NIGP Commodity/Services Code to define and report on spend in five categories:
1.       Janitorial Supplies
2.       Disposable Food Service Products
3.       Paper and Office Supplies
4.       Paint
5.       Electronic and IT Products
  • Maryland is piloting the reporting initiative now with the 20 constitutional agencies.
  • Since the agencies are not yet all on a single system, the process they are going through is manual (leveraging Google Docs and running a report from there).
  • Even with a more manual effort, the use of a standard coding system can help everyone report on an “apples-to-apples” basis. This is a strong testimonial to the value of the NIGP Code and its importance in helping to organize procurement data.

Read more about Maryland’s Green Purchasing efforts in the 2013 Maryland Green Purchasing Committee Annual Report.

Example #2: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts ~ Source: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts web site
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Environmentally Preferable Products (EPP) Procurement Program helps the Commonwealth use its purchasing power to reduce the environmental and public health impact of state government and stimulate market demand for green products and services.

Program Goals:
The primary goal of the EPP Program is to use the Commonwealth’s purchasing power to reduce the environmental and public health impact of state government and foster markets for EPPs. We are faced everyday with the reality that many of the products we buy can cause damage to the environment and/or public health from the extraction of raw materials and the manufacture of products, to their use and disposal, products that we use every day can be harmful. By purchasing EPPs, we look to reduce those impacts, some of which can be severe.  The choices we make affect our local environment, our health and the global community. The power of the purse is an extremely effective tool for promoting products that do less harm and contribute to the overall well-being of our planet.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a detailed Recycled and Environmentally Preferable Products and Services Guide that contains an alphabetical listing of all the products and services that have recycled content or other environmentally preferable features available on Massachusetts Statewide Contracts.

More information about the sustainable procurement efforts of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is available here.

Example #3: San Bernardino County
~ Source: NACo Green Purchasing Toolkit, Success Stories
San Bernardino County Green Team Develops Standard Practices for Green Purchasing
Project Statistics
  • County: San Bernardino County, CA
  • Population: 2,035,210
  • Total Annual Procurement: $840 Million
  • County Staff: 16,978
  • Green Purchasing Policy Adoption: 2009
In 2009, San Bernardino County, CA, adopted an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy, based on the recommendations of an interdepartmental Green Team. Standard practices developed by the group, in coordination with the County’s centralized Purchasing Department, provided direction about green purchasing practices to County employees.

The Standard Practices include standard solicitation and contract language, definitions, environmental factors and service labels, and other market considerations for environmentally preferred products. In various categories, desired products are identified for stated reasons. The documents also outline practices related to the county’s printing and stationery policies, office equipment standards, and toxins and hazardous waste to be avoided.


Recommended Best Practices for Developing a Green Team:
  • Include representatives from a diverse selection of county departments.
  • Invite knowledgeable and proactive participants. When possible, include elected officials and their staff in the process.
  • Develop goals and a timeline for accomplishments.
  • Meet regularly.
Read the full details of San Bernardino’s sustainable procurement initiative here.

You can read more Sustainable Procurement Success Stories by visiting the NACo Green Purchasing Toolkit and the NASPO Green Purchasing Guide, which includes a list of green purchasing policies and programs currently utilized in other states and localities.

Be sure to come back next week for the final post in our Sustainable Procurement Series! Tell us about your sustainable procurement efforts and challenges by commenting on this post. Have a great day!


NIGP Forum: The Time Has Come!

The Annual NIGP Forum officially kicks off today in Philadelphia. All week we have been highlighting our list of MUST ATTEND sessions at Forum here on our blog. You can see our full list of recommended sessions here.

By now I’m sure you are either already in Philly, on your way to Philly, or getting ready to leave for Philly…here’s to safe travels, lots of networking, plenty of learning, and CONNECTING PROCUREMENT COMMUNITIES!

Remember to check out the 2014 NIGP Forum Program Guide here and/or download the 2014 NIGP Forum App here to make your Forum experience fantastic.

We hope to see you at the Products Expo on August 25-26 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Plan to stop by the Periscope Holdings Booth #506 to learn about how we transform public and higher education procurement with a focus on eradicating waste and maximizing the value of every dollar spent. You can show us your putting skills for a chance to win an iPad Mini or a personal delivery of delicious Philly Cheesesteaks to your home.

Also, please visit the NIGP Services Pavilion #501 to learn more about the NIGP Code and NIGP Consulting Services.

NIGP Forum 2014…let’s do this!


Sustainable Procurement Series: How Periscope’s Purpose Intersects with Sustainable Procurement

Today we are excited to share the second post in our Sustainable Procurement Series for public sector and higher education procurement professionals. We are exploring sustainable procurement, why it matters, how Periscope’s purpose intersects with it, examples of sustainable procurement in action, and a call to action. Come back each Friday for the next 2 weeks to read the next installment in this series. Click here to read the first post in this series.

Today’s post explores how Periscope’s purpose intersects with sustainable procurement.

  • Periscope’s purpose is to eradicate waste and maximize the value of every dollar spent. Everything we do is focused on making public and higher education procurement better – whether through software, procurement transformation services (NIGP Consulting), or categorizing and organizing data (NIGP Commodity Code).
  • We enable our public sector and higher education clients to eradicate waste so that they can devote as many of their precious dollars to achieve their purpose and assert the values of the constituents and communities they serve. Increasingly, these values include sustainability – in what’s bought, in what’s built, and in what’s delivered.
  • We help clients go paperless. Implementing our BuySpeed eProcurement Solution saves trees; our customers dramatically reduce their use of paper, as their paper-based procurement systems are automated and conducted electronically.
  • We enable extremely flexible, robust reporting, helping our clients to know how their procurement operations are supporting their specific sustainability efforts. Through the commodity code, our clients can isolate green products and services for classification, reporting, and supplier identification.
  • In recent years, the NIGP Code has gone green by classifying items that fit sustainable procurement and providing a tool for reporting on green spend.  The Code now identifies “environmentally certified” products, which have been set up as a green counterpart of standard classes. There is a set of 10 initial Class Code selections that cover everything from computer accessories to janitorial supplies to paper products.  This initial set of codes was determined by a Green Code Committee that was made up of representatives from states, cities, counties, schools, and Green Seal. Code subscribers are currently utilizing the codes in their reporting of Sustainable Procurement and/or Environmentally Preferable Purchasing initiatives.

Be sure to come back next week for the next post in our Sustainable Procurement Series! We would love to hear your perspective on sustainable procurement and how your organization is focusing on sustainability in its procurement operations.


Sustainable Procurement Series: What You Need to Know

Today is the first post in our Sustainable Procurement Series for public sector and higher education procurement professionals. We will explore sustainable procurement, why it matters, how Periscope’s purpose intersects with it, examples of sustainable procurement in action, and a call to action. Come back each Friday for the next 3 weeks to read the next installment in this series.

What is Sustainable Procurement?

First let’s define sustainability. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, sustainability means: “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainable procurement is an approach to purchasing that considers the environmental, societal, and economic value of the goods and services being purchased. This approach allows the buyer to calculate the full cost of a purchase. Preference is given to the purchase of goods and services which are environmentally preferable, provide benefit to society and the local economy, and achieve good value for money on a life-cycle basis. This results in the purchase of goods and services that are better for both the environment and the local economy, and it ensures that resources are not diminished for future generations.

Why is Sustainable Procurement Important?

From the NASPO Green Purchasing Guide:
“As more procurement managers understand the connection between broader social issues and purchasing decisions, sustainable strategies aimed at reducing the adverse environmental and social impacts of organizations’ purchasing decisions are being adopted. Environmental, health, and safety concerns are increasingly being integrated into strategic sourcing. Government waste, emissions, and environmental risks are being recognized as often being directly linked to the quantity and quality of the goods and raw materials a government buys.

In the U.S., federal state, and local governments are part of the largest procurement group in the nation – representing over twenty percent of the Gross National Product. Thus, they can use the clout of their buying practices to direct industry manufacturers toward making more sustainable products that are reasonably priced and do less harm to the environment and public health. As this purchasing power is used to push suppliers toward a more proactive, planet-conscious direction, suppliers are also being enabled to achieve an enhanced market position.”

In a recent study conducted by the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP), procurement professionals were asked about the primary drivers of their organization’s sustainable procurement initiatives. The top 5 drivers identified were:

  1. Doing “what’s right” for the planet
  2. Cost reduction/savings
  3. Green factors
  4. Human health considerations
  5. Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements

What are the Outcomes of Sustainable Procurement?

  • Improved ability to meet environmental goals
  • Improved worker safety and health
  • Reduced liabilities
  • Reduced health and disposal costs
  • Increased availability of environmentally preferable products in the marketplace

Learn More about Sustainable Procurement:

Be sure to come back next week for the next post in our Sustainable Procurement Series! Feel free to share your perspective about sustainable procurement with us, along with how your organization is focusing on sustainability in its procurement operations.


Save the Date ~ Evolve ‘15

Mark your calendar for Evolve ‘15, a premiere public procurement industry event focused on education, innovation, and collaboration. Join us April 6-8, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort in Austin!

Periscope is proud to bring together public sector and higher education procurement leaders to discuss how to eradicate waste and maximize the value of every dollar spent. Put this conference on your calendar today and make plans to attend. Registration will be available soon. Stay tuned!


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